Radio26.Cu – Matanzas, Cuba

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Fire and memory.

Tamara Caridad Mesa González 5 septiembre, 2018

The fire saved us, allowed us to overcome the tremendous distance between the cavern and the cosmos but, like almost everything, it has a cost. It can also be an implacable enemy of those who do not believe in negotiating tables and fight until the end of the end, a furious animal without control.

An unfortunate reminder of the power of the flames has lived in Brazil since last Sunday, when a fire literally burned centuries of History contained in the National Museum located in Rio de Janeiro.

The world is in shock with the images of the flames raging in the ancient palace of the nineteenth century and also the desolation that was left among the ruins of the building where some 20 million items of historical and cultural value remained, of which only saved, with luck, ten percent.

As always, several causes of the tragedy are already being considered, from the lack of funds and the dilapidated state of the facilities denounced by the personnel, to the fall of a small hot air balloon used during a celebration or a possible short circuit.

But what was special about this place? Why is the loss classified by various media as “catastrophe” for the rest of the continent and the planet?

Among other treasures, the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro contained one of the largest collections of anthropology and natural history in the region; objects from various civilizations of America, Europe and Africa; and the largest collection of Egyptian archeology in Latin America.

Also in its rooms remained a significant paleontological collection between copies and records; the most important collection of classical archeology of the continent; the oldest skeleton found in the region that of a woman nicknamed Luzia, twelve thousand years old.

It is overwhelming to realize how much cultural wealth accumulated and protected for centuries can be reduced to ashes in just a few hours.For that of putting your own beard soaking when we see the burning of the neighbor, seeing the images of the National Museum of Brazil in flames my mind cannot avoid making comparisons, taking account, regret how much we could lose in Cuba if a similar tragedy happened in some of our cultural institutions.

There is everything, as in the pharmacy: we have glittering museums that combine knowledge with entertainment thanks to technology, almost finished hatching; others keep treasures without which we could not recognize ourselves as a country even in a mirror; and there are also some more modest, but equally valuable to tell the future of the primordial, beloved, our place of birth.

It is not idle to ask now how safe are the spaces where the relics of the Homeland lie, the collections gathered by the wise, the pieces whose singularity makes them irreplaceable, the immaterial and the tangible.

It is said that the greatest sign of vulnerability can be to feel invulnerable, and it is good for everything. I prefer not to give details or mention any institution because I do not want anyone in particular to feel alluded to. Actually, I want everyone to feel alluded to.

I remember a novel by Englishman Terry Pratchett, The Nation, in which a young man tries to reconstruct the culture of his native country completely destroyed by a tsunami and for that he uses his memory where fragments of customs, traditions of the extinct people still remain latent.

That the wave does not catch us off guard, neither the fire nor the wind, we are able to put to guard everything that makes us unrepeatable, or what is the same: Cubans. Who forewarned is not a traitor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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